There are many different types of Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices that are available in schools. They range from very basic to very technologically advanced. The types of AAC in each school depends on the funding the school has. A richer school district may be able to afford to give each qualified student one of the newest devices, while less affluent school districts may use techniques that do not include any modern technology. There are three main types of AAC devices:
- digitized speech output
- Synthesized speech output that require spelling or touching a corresponding picture
- Synthesized speech that allow multiple methods of message formulation
Digitized speech output devices sound more human than synthesized speech devices. They sound like a human that recorded their own voice and has been reconfigured to match what the user of the device is trying to say. Words, phrases, and sentences must be pre-programed into the device by a Speech-Language Pathologist or guardian before the patient can say what he or she wants.
Synthesized speech output devices use the patient’s input (such as touching the words to make a phrase or by touching a corresponding picture) to produce machine-generated sound. The machines use algorithms that correspond to linguistic rules in order to create the sounds. The benefit of this type of device is that the patient can create their own sentences and phrases without having them pre-programed into the device by another person.
The last form of AAC devices, those with synthesized speech output that allow multiple methods of message formulation, might be the most technologically advanced because they have many options for constructing, saving, and retrieving messages that the patient wishes to be spoken. They can use linguistic techniques such as text to communicate their thoughts, or if the patient does not have linguistic abilities, they can use familiar pictures to communicate their thoughts and needs.
All of these forms help the patient effectively communicate messages to others that may not otherwise be understood. These devices are necessary in schools to make the teacher’s life and the students’ lives much easier. Communication devices allow students to communicate with each other and take a step towards leading a normal life.